At the recent Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple announced key new features in the upcoming iOS 5 operating system. iOS 5 will be available in Fall 2011 for iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPads 1 and 2, and iPod Touch (third and fourth generations) devices. Here is a list of the features we think are going to be the most valuable:
Over the Air Updates
This simple statement is actually a big deal. In a world where just about everything is accessible via the internet, we still have to tether our favorite Apple device to a Mac or PC to sync with iTunes. With iOS 5, we will all be able to download and install software updates over the air, requiring no connection to a computer. We will also be able to backup and restore our devices if we leverage the new iCloud storage offering.
Enhanced Mail Application
The new Mail application has a TON of great new features. Rich-text formatting like bold, underline and indentation. Drag email addresses between the To, CC and Bcc fields. Message flagging, and more. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to copy an email address to start a new message on my iPhone… it just doesn’t work. Until this fall anyway.
FaceTime Will Work Over a 3G Connection
Mic and I use FaceTime on our iPhones or iPads to have our weekly status meeting. Today, we are required to be connected to a WiFi hotspot for this to work. In iOS 5, we will be able to use the 3G network provided by the phone carrier to have FaceTime conversations. This will free us up to be just about anywhere and able to have our FaceTime call.
Revamped Notification System
Are you tired of all the little red circles with numbers in them telling you that their is a new message or notification with various applications on your device? Combine that with the fact that a typical user has multiple pages of applications (meaning you have to scroll through pages to see the notification of new messages or updates). The new notification system lives at the top of the screen as always available. It will be a system wide notification system that collects notifications from all applications and keeps them in one nice, easy to access screen. You simply use one finger and swipe down on the screen to access the Notification System. Yay.
iMessages is like a text messaging client on steroids. It works over 3G and WiFi connections but only works between iOS users (other people with iPhones, iPads, etc.) Kind of like those commercials that say, “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have an iPhone.” iMessages lets you share texts, photos, videos and more and supports persistent conversations. Persistent conversation means you can start your communication with someone on your iPhone as you are driving home and then switch over to your iPad to continue the conversation seamlessly.
Custom Tones for System Events (Finally)
iOS 5 will support custom tones (and vibration patterns) for new voicemails, new email, sent email, and calendar alerts. With custom alerts, you’ll know immediately what type of notification you are getting. If you have an office or home with more than one iPhone or iPad user, setting custom tones will make it easier to know which device is getting calls, messages, or has a calendar reminder popping up.
Location Aware Reminders
This could get really interesting as App Developers write software to leverage this feature. The new Reminders app lets you store multiple lists of reminders, including dates for each event. It can also assign location, as in “remind me to call my wife when I leave the convention today” which uses a geo-fence to see when you’re outside of an area to send that reminder. Reminders sync on iCal on the Mac with CalDAV, and on Windows with MS Exchange.
Updated Safari Web Browser
If you are on the web on your iPhone or iPad as much as we are, you will appreciate the simple update of tabbed web pages in Safari and faster switching between pages.
There are 200 new features in the upcoming iOS 5 release. We think this is going to be a great update to an already amazing operating system. Let us know what feature you are most excited to have when the update is available!